Corpus - Alvin Booth - Edition Stemmle

Corpus, the first book by New York-domiciled photographer Alvin Booth, offers an intriguing combination of styles and subject matter that connect the beginning and the end of the 20th century. The British-born Booth creates turn of the century “Pictorialist-style” images of the body. They confirm the acceptance of the once-submerged practices of fetishism, bondage and sado-masochism as elements of contemporary Western culture.

Booth’s photographs are supreme exercises in style, as befits an approach which owes a large debt to fashion photography — but we should remember that this is a genre which documents as well as markets changes in public values. Although the content of these pictures might once have been considered socially controversial, it is a long time since Robert Mapplethorpe and others conveyed the private gardens of their sexual obsessions onto the white walls of the public art gallery. Booth’s models have their bodies toned with gold paint (echoing the toning which his matt-paper prints also receive), and are clad in latex and rope confections of his own making. These constructions are designed to emphasise the sexual organs and erotic zones of his models, much as a Versace dress would do for wear in more public environments than the photographer’s studio. Charlotte Cotton, an expert on contemporary fashion photography at the Victoria and Albert Museum (London) emphasises the stylistic roots of Booth’s work in her Foreword to Corpus: "Booth's passion for sensuous innuendo is manifest in the compositions contained within these pages. His wit and glinting eye infuse the presentation of sexuality within the images."